Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Upton's Wolves - A Tale of Lisnagarvey. (part 3)



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A Tale of Lisnagarvey.


"'Tis them, sir," said Ruairi. "tháim cinnte!"

"Enough, man," said the Squire, "enough -- no time for talking." And he dug his spurs viciously.
They were now on the descent of the mountain. Not a light could be seen over the whole extent of the great Massereene Valley. All was shrouded in darkness. But as they rounded a projecting whinstone spur and its cap of dwarf sloebushes they could discern a faint glimmer at the north "Foot."

"Yon's the house," cried the Squire joyfully. "Bill, the lad, is waiting on us, true to his tryst!"
In about half an hour of steady descent Upton and his friend, the torie from Kerry, arrived at the white farmhouse, were by appointment of the previous night the boy Bill was to meet them with the dogs, leashed for their work. Bill and the man of the house were in the air without, awaiting the Squire's arrival; for they had espied him and his companion as they zig-zagged down the mountainside, sometimes sillouetted against the moonlight, which now shone with all the frosty clearness of a fine autumn night. The dogs crooned joyously from the kitchen within, and a heartsome odour of frying meat met the nostrils of the travellers as they approached, promising a substantial meal, for which, in all truth, they were ready.

"Welcom', kin'ly welcom', hame," said the boy Bill, grasping his master heartily by the hand as he dismounted. "Yo'd a long ridse, sar?"

"Ay, son," returned Upton, much pleased with the ingeniousness of the youth's greeting. "Are the dogs ready? They have their work cut out for them this night, I'm thinking. Come, man," he said to Ruairi Carrach, who, strange thing for him, was inclined to hang back. "Look to Kettledrum, Bill, he's footsore and hungry."

Bill led the poor brute off to the clustering outhouses in the rear, while the Squire himself and Ruairi Carrach, at the goodman's invitation, entered the big farm-kitchen. The hounds bounding to greet them as they crossed the threshold, almost upsetting the goodwife who came "ben" from the low room, jug in hand, wreathed in hissing steam and smiles of welcome.

"They're in fine twist for their work," said the Squire to the goodman. And he laughed for sheer good-humour and satisfaction with himself -- a thing he but seldom did.

The meal was got through pretty rapidly, every man of them there doing justice to his bit. There was little or no time for fireside cracking, for the wolves, as the Squire had arranged, were to be tackled "out of hand." So, thanking the goodwige for her hospitality, the hunting party rose to go. Ruairi Carrach had charge of the hounds and general direction of the hunt. Bill went on as guide, for there was not a clodding-stone of that country but he knew like an old friend. And the Squire was there as adventurer and presiding genius of the business. The goodman, John-Gilpen-like, "followed after," with a blunderbuss and each shoulder and a plentiful supply of powder and shot in horns slung on the service-belt at either side of him. At Bill's suggestion they struck up by a large stone-built sheepfold that stood on the north shoulder of Divs Mountain, and dominated the Cúm "hollow," wherein Ruairi Carrach knew the wolves lay hidden, lost in fog. This fold was used by Lochside farmers, who had wool out pasturing on the sweet herbage of the mountain; and it had been entered by the pack four nights before, and fifteen head of sheep, penned there, eaten alive. There was accommodation for a shepherd inside the fold, and one was watching on this particular night. But at the first onslaught of the grey marauders he had fled, leaving his bleating charge to their tender mercies. No one since that night had ventured near the building. Nor was it known that the wolves had left it or its immediate neighbourhood; the eating it offered being to fat, and the protection it afforded -- perched thus on the mountain-top -- too secure. When the hunting-party had reached the ridge of the mountain, after a long and fatiguing climb, they skirted round to the north-east side, and in due time came on the fold, sitting grey and solitary over at the surrounding country, now wrapt in the darkness and silence of sleep. Ruairi Carrach found it hard enough work holding the dogs, for they were chaffing on their collars with restraint, and perhaps already scented out their game. The Cúm "hollow" still held its coverlet of mist, but no sound came from it. The pack may have taken off over the hills since they were last located; but, as Ruairi Carrach predicted, they would soon return again. The party entered the fold, headed by Ruairi and the dogs, and followed up by Bill with a stable-lantern, which he had now lit, for the place was pitch-dark within. Hardly had the dogs crossed the doorway when they dragged the torie roughly to his knees, and, snapping their bans, bounded from him with an impetuous yell. They were on top of a half-grown cub bitch that stood skulking over a putrid sheep-carcase, and had apparently remained feeding behind while its fellows went for a scurry across country as digester after their share of the surfeit. There was a mad growl, a shriek, a whine, and the carrion rogue was done for! The dogs seemed heartily pleased with themselves, as in the dim latern light they speered round their first "kill," smelling it suspiciously. Ruairi relieved them of the broken leading-strings, and the Squire gave orders for a watch to be set instantly. "They may return," he said, "any minute; and we must be found prepared. Look at you -- Lord, what a sight!" -- and he pointed to a corner of the fold, where, huddled together, lay ten or twelve sheep, all torn and blood-besprent. It was a sickening sight.  The poor frightened brutes had evidently been driven back here at the first onslaught of the wolves, and ha been devoured literally as they stood.

"Set a watch instantly!" cried the Squire. "This is their calf-ground, and they will come back before the night is much older. Set a watch!"

Ruairi was ready at his work. He went about things with the air of an old hand at the game. He was taking the fulll of his eyes of everything -- measuring the strategical methods of the pack, and preparing his defences accordingly. There were two entrances to the fold, he noticed -- one to the north (by which they had entered), low and broad; the other facing opposite, high and rather narrower. In his opinion there were not more than seven wolves, at most, in the whole pack. They had made their first attack by the north door; the position of the dead sheep as they lay huddled together on the south angle justified this view. But when their assault succeeded and they had practically the place to themselves they paddled in and out of either dooe, just as their convenience warranted of the fancy took them.

"They may enter either side," said Rauiri to the Squire, who had snatched the lantern from Bill's hand, and, with the hounds at his heels, was now ferreting round the fold -- after nothing! "I will leave you and the dog-boy to guard this door, while I and the goodman go on the other. Your choice of dogs, sir? Well, you can have Hector, here, as he seems to be your favourite. Watch the rascals. This steal on you with all the caution of wild-cats. Nor will you hear them. But dog will, and positively will go the leader his first fall.  If therefore, sir, you are not active when he is down he may escape, and the others with him. Or he may rise up and kill both you and the dog -- which heaven forfend! Here is a knife, sir," said Rauiri, undoing a short hunters "gully" from his shirt-belt. "You have 'Silver Toe' as it is, and here is a gun, sir. Goodman, where's the gun?"

The goodman handed a blunderbuss to the Squire, ready loaded with powder-horn, shot-case, colfin, and calfin-rammer.

"Good luck to you, man," returned Upton, as he took the knife from the wolf-huters hand. "Here, Bill, son, hold the dog -- I'll look to the gun. Good luck, man Ruairi. We'll do what we can -- depend on't!"

Ruairi Carrach and the goodman now departed for their own station, while Squire Upton and his dog-boy Bill crouched down behind the south gate, with the faithful Hector in leash beside them. The cold was intense, and the early morning darkness which accentuated in the shadow of the high walls of the fold. The wait was long and monotonous, for not a word could be spoken. Often in the night Upton was tempted to sleep; he was travel-tired and weary. But the excitement of the situation, and the odd stir-up from Bill, kept him from dozing off altogether. There was a grey clearing in the East --

"Eist!" whispered Ruairi Carrach, creeping out from his hiding-place to the north-side opening.

There was no unusual sound that an ordinary ear would detect; only the distant morning crowing of the cocks and farmyards of Massereene.

"Eist!" said Ruairi again, starting to his feet. "They're coming. Block that gate, a mhic o," he shouted to the dog-boy. "Hold the dogs!"

Hardly was the word out of his mouth when the wolves were on them and into the fold -- ten big grey dogs, no less, long-legged and white-fanged. They came swooping in by Ruairi Carrach's end, front-full and unsuspecting. Little did they think what awaited them. The wolf-dogs left their slips with a mighty roar, and in a trice were among the carrion. Ruairi Carrach accounted for two with his hunting-gully before they were right in of the door-jambs. Stone dead they fell, for Ruairi had tickled them just in the proper spot. A shot from Upton's blunderbuss disabled a couple more, and nearly took the leg off poor Bill, who, slips in hand, stood sideways to the charge. The dogs had worried three to the point of collapse, and Ruairi Carrach's little hunting-knife neatly finished their work. Three got clear away, clambering madly over the high grey walls of the fold. But Ruairi and the dogs were after them. It was a hot chase. They ran into the Cúm "hollow," already clear of its fog coverlet in the grey daylight.  The dogs anticipated the move and endeavoured to circumvent them.

"Fire, sir, fire!" yelled Ruairi to the Squire, who now came up for him with the blunderbuss, blowing like a storm through the Windy-Gap. The old gun rang out as he spoke, startling the silence of the hills into a thousand echoes. The shot miscarried, and Upton stumbled in a whin bush under the repay kick.

"Go mar'ighidh se thu!" snarled the wolf-hunter. "Leave them to the dogs -- and me. I'll finish them when my hand's in."

The chase was a beautiful one. The wolves were a trifle heavy after their three days' gorb, but ran gamely, if somewhat clumsiliy. The dogs seemed almost to understand this failing of weight, and kept them in the "hollow" tight up to their work.

"Feuch! feuch!" cried Ruairi to the Squire, who advanced picking the whin-spines out of his flesh. "Hector's only warming to his quarry. See! He hopes to wind them; and, that done, why his work's done. Beautiful! beautiful!" the torie shouted, unable to restrain himself for administration.

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It would be wearisome to you, reader, to follow the story in detail further. Suffice it to relate that, as the old school-master Compton tells us in that little book of his with the big title, "A Compendious System of Chronology," published in Belfast about the year 1823, the three wolves were killed in this "valley betwixt the hills," and by Irish wolf-dogs, the property of Clotworthy Squire Upton, to wit, of Castle-Upton, Templepatrick, in the County Antrim. That was in the third year of the reign of Dutch William, as the same pedantic authority takes care to further inform us in the same book. These wolves were supposed to have been the last of their kind in Erin. But this is not fact, as those who read history may find out for themselves. They were the last in Ulster, though; and Squire Upton got fame over the budsiness that reached far beyond the mere marches of the Fighting Province.

It is not known what became of Ruairi after. Some say he went back to his ranting, roving torie-life, on the principle that there's no corner so warm to a body as his own. Others say he married, settling down as a keeper on the Squire's estate at Ballyutog; that he lived to be as old as a wee field, and in the end had to be shot with a sixpence. Some of his name and breed, they tell me, are to be found in the Molusk lowlands to this day, and they can be distinguished from the Tamsons and the Rabisons and the Kells and the Barnes of those parts by their name, their colour, their manner, and their language. But that I cannot vouch for: I simply tell you what I heard told me. And if there is any among you, readers, who may think I am drawing on my imagination for my facts, or who would be inclined at all to doubt the veracity of the story of "Upton's Wolves," let him go down to the linen village of Ligoniel and ask a native -- "What is the name of that hill yonder, to the north?" He will answer, "Squire's Hill." "And what is the name of that high, heather-grown hill over the village?" He will answer, "Wolf Hill." And what is the name of the eminence behind it again to the east?" He will answer, "Aghabrack," which is a Gaelic name, and signifies the Field of the Wolves. It was in the valley betwixt those two hills, as I have before explained at length, that the last wolves in Ulster were killed by Squire Upton's dogs. And the Templepatrick bodies say that the heads of three wolves were long seen mounted on the hall walls of Castle-Upton, with a neat brass plate to each. inscribed with the day, date, and mannerof its capture.

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(Compiled by F. J. Bigger.)

The names of places and expressions in "Upton's Wolves" are here given in the Gaelic with their English equivalents and in so far as possible the meaning of the Gaelic terms.

Anahilt -- Enach-eilte -- Marsh of does.
Aghabrack -- Achadh-na-breac -- Field with wolves.
Aghalee -- Achadh-laeg -- Calves' field.
Antrim -- Aondruim -- One ridge.
Ballylesson -- Baile-Liosain -- Little fort, village.
Ballinderry -- Baile-an Doire -- Oakwood town.
Belfast -- Beul-Fearsat -- Mouth of River.
Carnmoney -- Carn-Muine -- Shrubbery carn.
Carngreine -- Carn-greine -- Sunny carn.
Connaught -- Connacht --
Cromac -- Cromog -- Sloping place.
Croob -- Crub -- Hoof.
Crumlin -- Crum-glinn -- Crooked glen.
Dundrod -- Dun-droiched -- Bridge fort.
Divis -- Dubh-ais -- Rough mountain.
Dunmurry -- Dun-muireadhaigh -- Murray's fort.
Drumbo -- Drum-bo -- The cow's ridge.
Drumahaire -- Druim-aedhaire -- The ridge of the two air demons.
Duneane -- Dun-ean -- Bird's fort.
Derry -- Doire -- An oak grove.
Beurla -- English.
Erin -- Eire -- A woman.
Finaghy -- Fionn-achadh -- White field.
Farranfuar -- Fearann-fuar -- Cold land.
Glendaragh -- Gleann-darach -- Oak glen.
James -- Seumas --
Killimoney -- Coill-a-mona -- Wood of the moan.
Kerry -- Ciarraidhe --
Killead -- Cill-fhadh -- Long church.
Legoniel -- Liag-ua-niall -- O'Neill's Hollow.
Lambeg -- Lamh-beag -- Little church.
Lisnagarvey -- Lios-na-goearrbhach -- Gambler's Fort.
Massereene -- Mas-a-rioghan -- Queen's hill.
Malone -- Magh-luan -- Fat lamb's plain.
Moy -- Magh -- A plain.
Magheragall -- Machaire-geal -- White plain.
Molusk -- Maghloisgthe -- Burnt plain.
Mucamore — Maig-cumair -- Two waters meet.
Round Tower -- Cloic-teach -- Bell-house.
Randalstown -- Baile-Randhaill -- Town of Randall (MacDonnell).
Shankill -- Sean-cill -- Old Church.
Trummery -- Tromaire -- Where elders grow.
Templepatrick -- Teampull-Padraig -- St. Patrick's Church.
Ulster -- Uladh --
William -- Liam --
Raparies -- Outlaws --
Imthigh-libh -- Be off with you.
Cum -- A hollow.
Eist -- Be silent.
Na-breacha is eadh iadh -- The wolves they are.
Taim Cinnte -- I'm certain.
A mhic O' -- My boy O!
Feuc -- Look! See!
Go mar ighidh se thu -- May you wear it.

(Hearth-money Rolls, 1669, next week.)

(This article was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 27 July 1917 as part of a series which ran in that paper each week through 1917. The text along with other extracts can be found on my website Eddies Extracts.)

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Upton's Wolves - A Tale of Lisnagarvey. (part 2)



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A Tale of Lisnagarvey.


Next morning Upton was astir with the sun. He partook of a hearty breakfast, for he had an eventful day's work before him, as he laid out for himself. His business to Lambeg was in connection with the preservation of the peace of the baronies marching on Belfast. The lieutenants were to meet there in session to consider the recent importation of beggar companies, and such like strollers, driven north through stress of war in other parts of the kingdom. Lambeg was selected as proximity to the Gamester's Moat at Lisnagarvey, where numbers of these undesirables were known to frequent and hover. The rogues were to be confronted, as it were with the majesty of the law, to be taught to render its officers the respect owed them in virtue of their position, and to learn due appreciation of its penalties. Rab Castlaw had the Squire's favourite hackney, Kettledrum, groomed and onsaddled before the door. Upton mounted, riding out unattended, but with a brace of pisto;s in his sword-belt, the pans primed and ready for rude assault. His way took him by Molusk, the Cave-Hill, Biggerstown, and Old Park into Belfast, through the town by Cromac Springs, on south-wards, past the Five Beeches at Malone, and thence by the Lagan Valley, Giant's Ring, Ballylesson, and Drumbo to Lambeg, where he duly arrived for the [-- ? --] with time and to spare. He fell in with many gentlemen on the road, all riding with their servants by horseback and coach to the same trysting. Upton could have made as brave a show as the bluest-blooded among them, but he preferred for reasons which my readers will understand to go alone on this occasion, besides being a man of hard and simple tastes. Few country people were about, for it was the hind-harvest, and they were busied in the haggards. But the beggars were there in force, displaying the rouges' effrontery to the full, hirpling after the cavalcades, loudly craving halfpence and compassion.

With the meeting we have no concern, other than to make mention of the purport and holding. Business was got through in good time; and Upton, when he had regaled himself on the cold punch and cheese sandwiches packed in his holsters, mounted horse and pushed rapidly ahead towards Lisnagarvey, where he hoped to secure his man -- the outlaw from Kerry. Two gentlemen from The Moy side rode with him. But he parted their company at a farm "loaney" turning to the left, about a furlong this side of the Gamesters' Moat, saying that he was going visiting a ploughhand engaged at the place who had wrought to him some years back, and in whose welfare he was interested. With the road all to himself, then, he made a detour by the fields, his dignified Kettledrum taking to the fences like a two-year-old, and in due time came on the entry to the Moat.

The Moat stood to the north-east of the town of Lisnagarvey, not very far from the mouldering round-tower on Drumbo Hill, and save on the north side, where it was girt in with a dense growth of wood, commanded a wide and splendid prospect. Sou'-westward stretched the fertile Valley of Lagan, delightful in dark wood and fair fields, most of the latter green and shorn of their golden harvest-crop, but a laggard few still yellow in waving wheat and corn. Here and there the river could be seen in tantalising glimpses, with the brown firwoods that marked its course darkening over its ribbon of gleaming waters. In the southern distance, far beyond the rich Vale of Crumlin and the prosperous uplands of the Annahilt and Drumahaire, the blue peak of Croob could be seen rising faintly to the sky. Eastward the view was bounded in by the nearer heights of Drumbo and Blackrock, pale-red in fallow and worn pasture-land. Westward lay the fields of Magheragall, with the ancient ruined Round Tower of Trummery among them, and, beyond, Aghalee and Ballinderry, and the faint waters of Lough Neigh, beautiful in mist and legend. The Moat was originally a "lios" or "rath," built by the devoted hands of early settlers in Erin, and owned its commanding site. I would think, to the keen instinct of self-preservation that dwelt in the breast of primitive man. Our forefathers, as every schoolboy knows, were great cattle-keepers. These rings of earth were thrown up by them to serve as pounds or "closes," inside which their herds were driven at night, or when disturbed from the lower pastures by the cattle-spoilers and torie-tongues -- then, as now, pretty numerous in the kingdom. The height at which raths were built enabled the watching herdsmen to see far over the surrounding country; and, besides, it rendered them more immune from risk of attack. When the Irish took seriously to war as a business and gave up the more peaceable keeping of cattle the raths were given over to the faeries and the thimble men; not, indeed, solely because of the fine prospects they commanded, or of the comparative safety they secured, but also because of their loneliness sitting up on those green hills, so grey and solitary. It was never known that this particular rath was a haunt of the good-people.  But it certainly is known that it was a haunt of the rogues; and that is how it came to get its present curious name -- Lisnagarvey, the Forth of the Carrowes, or Card-Men. Hither came the freefoots of the whole kingdom "to playe at cardes and dice," as one old writer puts it. The vagabonds of one generation handed it down in tail to the knifie-boys of another, till in time's course the very place-name became synonomous for black disreputableness. No person who valued his character as something, to be treasured as sacred would venture within seven fields of the Gamester's Moat at Lisnagarvey.

Upton approached from the north side, where it was closed in with wood. He could hear the music of a bag-pipe played from within the Forth, and the sound of many voices in merriment. But till now he could see nothing. He advanced at a walking pace, urging Kettledrum slowly over the undergrowth which grew lavishly on either hand and impeded his free movement. Suddenly he came on an opening in the thicket which led into an open "green," over which many people were scattered sitting in groups. The "mount proper, moated about" rose to the left of this "green;" and it was from within its walls that the pipe-music and the sounds of vigorous merriment proceeded. He dismounted silently and tethered his horse-bridle to a sapling growing on the outer side of the narrow approach. From his position now he could see that the people seated on the "green" were not the carrowes proper, but poor back-gone country-folk, mostly from Louth and other southern and western counties, who followed the rogues for protection.

At Upton's approach the party loitering nearest to him fled precipitately, and giving the cue in a series of wild Gaelic yells to their fellows, the hive was soon in a hub-bub of dread and consternation. What errand had the stranger there, armed and in gentleman's guise? Such broadcloth intrusion was most unusual. Few from the world who valued their lives or their characters dared to break in upon the Moat's ancient privacy. The poor people scattered, not indeed that they had much to fear. But they were taken unawares and moreover, they were soulless and dispirited after so many months of effort and so many of failure, and the Damocles-doom of death and eternal slavery hanging over their heads by a hair. Upton, though a brave and venturesome man, was himself afraid. Here he was, Williamite captain, alone, far from home, and but meanly armed, in the stronghold of venemous Jacobitism. The pipe-music had ceased; the sounds of bumptious merriment were stilled; and already twenty pairs of wild glibbed eyes peered gaping on him from the Fort-top. The position was sufficient to test the nerves of a stronger men than Upton. But his head was in, as they say; and the devil himself would not get it out again.

While debating within himself whether to push on or whether to flee, a carrowe emerged from the gapped entry to the Moat, and advancing to where Upton stood, addressed him pleasantly, first in liquid Gaelic, then in sturdy deliberate english, as if that language were strange and foreign to him. He was a tall man, tough as a window-watcher, spare in flesh, but muscularly formed, with the blue eyes, matted yellow hair, flowing habiliments, and brazen manner of his caste. Upton was a little taken aback at the fine freedom of his address. But when he invited him pleasantly to have a game upon the green, only, he said, "wishing his honour's company to hold them sport," his dourness relaxed considerably, and he stepped forward to comply with his request.

"Good," said the carrowe, when Upton had told him the nature of his business thither. "Only give me five guineas down in gold, and a pass of safe conduct through, and I'm your man. Any work comes easy to my hand, sir -- I just wag as the bush wags. My name, sir? Ruairi Carrach, the wolf-hunter, of the mountain parish of Farranfaur, in Kerry. Wolves, sir? G--d, I've a hundred heads to my account in a tithe as many years at the work sir; and there's not a man living can say better. No, sir!" And he swore a full-mouthed oath in Gaelic as, arm-in-arm, they entered the Moat together.

The sight that greeted Upton's eyes as he entered the enclosure was certainly a novel one. Gathered here and there in strange motely groups sat the carrowes at their dice-throwing and carding. They were so different in every way to the poor folk who first confronted his wondering gaze. Their very look spoke the "sore-legs," the professional strollers; their manner, the buckle-beggars who know no timidity and no shame; their speech, the loud-mouthed adventurers. Apart from the gaming groups sat the piper of the company, the wild versatile man who supplied the music for the dance and the motive for the onset. He was viciously pock-marked, glibbed, rug-bearded, and apparently blind, judging from the way in which he stared into the sky-space like a dreamer inspired; timing his melody with traditional beats of his right foot as he turned the pipes on in lively salute to the stranger. The grass on all sides was littered over with old torie-cloaks multi-hued as your beggars' bags and ragged uniforms, many of them bloodstained, telling of service in the recent wars, or, it might be, in some less glorious midnight sheep-slaying. A tripod of stakes -- ash saplings with their bark on them -- stood in the farthermost angle of the Moat, and slung on it a sheep's carcase, fobbed probably from a cote near-by, and the life-blood of which might have stained many of the garments just now spoken of. A new fire of wood crackled merrily at hand, and with bright promise for the roasting.

At the invitation of the group nearest him Upton sat down, and good-humouredly joined in the game -- "spoil five" it was, Erin;s national card-game. Ruairi Carrach, who was apparently the man in authority here, ordered a member of the group to set about preparing the dinner. He skulked off to his task, sullenly enough it must be said, and Upton took his place without disturbing the "loo ob." Considering that he was no great hand at the cards, and that he was practically in the grip of a gang of professional sharpe and "cunning-men," innocent all as pet-foxes, he did uncommonly well at the game. He played with steadiness and precision, using his English powers of judgement to good account; and when he rose at the call for dinner, if he was nothing much in as winners, he was, at all events, no great money out. He thanked the Lord silently in his heart for his good fortune so far, and with appetite quickened by his long ride and the ordeal he had just faced so resolutely, proceeded to his meal. It was served in rough alfresco fashion; but the mutton being young and well hung, it tasted well in spite of the vicious scamming it had suffered at the hands of torie-cook and wreathing fire combined. A pot of red ale was served out to him as compliment to the stranger. For, be it borne in mind, whatever other faults these wild men could be accused of -- and the bead-roll was a long one in all conscience! -- yet they had hearts, and could never be brought to book on the score of inhospitality to the stranger. Numerous stories were told and jokes bandied, both in English and in the gaelic, and snatches of old Jacobite songs sung.

When the repast was over it was falling grey dusk. Upton rose to go. His horse stood on-saddled for the road, ready watered and fothered, and fifty poor "Peg Straws," if there was one, holding on to the bridle-reins in the off-chance of getting a dole before the "kind gentleman" went off. He mounted. Ruairi Carrach was up in a trice behind him, with a gesture to the mob to stand off.

"Imthigh libh! Imthigh Libh!" he shouted.

There was a momentary sway back of the crowd, only for it to close in again with renewed pressure and persistency. Upton put his hand in his pocket and sent a shower of silver flying over their heads. The shower was a magical one, like your proverbial "shower of sixpences." The people scattered all roads in a mad scramble, pulling at each others's wools and screaming wildly. Upton took advantage of the distraction to get away, and at Ruairi Carrach's suggestion put spurs to his mount and was soon clattering down the high road next Lambeg. For half a mile on their course they could still hear the sound of the shouting in the darkness, for the evening was a still one and what slight breath of wind there was blowing happened to be in their direction. Their course lay by Dunmurry and The Finaghy to Stockman's Loaney, where they drew rein at the "Hanging Ash" Smithy to have the clinching of their off fore-shoe attended to. or

"For want of a nail the shoe was lost."

Then they pushed on through The Falls to Ligoniel, avoiding the town, and up the steep ascent through the old linen village to the hills. In the window of the last house on the road a glimmer was burning. Upton felt thirsty, and dismounted for a drink. Besides, his poor mount Kettledrum was winded and weary after its long drag uphill from Shankill, and it wanted a breather badly. Ruairi Carrach was not ill-off, being used to such sudden spells and long inured to hardships. Upton rapped at the door of the house with his crop-handle. The knock was answered by Andy M'Bride in his shirt-sleeves, who seemed somewhat taken aback when he saw who he had.

"Maister Upton?" he queried, peering uncannily into the Squire's face.

"Yes, my good man. Can I have a drink?"

"Och, surely, Maister Upton, surely," said the man of the house. And he called to his "guidwife Tibbie" to "cam' ben wi' a sup o' new mulk for Maister Upton."

"Oh, water will do me," said the Squire. "I'm dry, and want the drink."

"Watter, Tibbie, guid-wumman," called the man of the house. "The Maister's drouthy an' wants the dhrink. Watter, well-watter, 'll dae, guid-wumman -- an' a sup i' the pail for the puir baste oz' weal! -- ye're for the hills the nicht, Maister Upton?" he said to the Squire. "It's nae sae aft we see ye this road."

"Yes," returned the Squire. "I've taken this road home. It's a roundabout. But what matters -- that's my way."

"Ye ha'e nae heard o' the wolves, then?" ventured the man of the house.

"The what?" cried the Squire, feigning blissful ignorance of the existence even of such things in the Province.

"The wulves, then, Maister Upton!" said the man of the house deliberately.

"N-no," stuttered Upton, cleverly drawing his game.

"G--d, an' it's weel ye stappit, so," said the man of the house. "The hills hereaboots 're nigh over-run wi' them. An' me up o' nichts, this ane lang week back, wi' lichts a-glimmer a' sides o' the hoose, stack-stanes an' windie-stool, an' barely a breath i' me for fear. They're wrocht sad wark doon by Dundrod saide, there -- sheep a-liftin', an' lambs ate b' the fauld-full. It's a caution, Maister Upton -- whatever they're cam' frae. 'Sang it is!"

Tibbie here cme "ben" with the drink in a beechwood noggib, holding the light of a rush-dip in the face of the Squire as he quaffed off the cool draught, and peering out into the night, with the curiosity of her kind, to see who the weary his honour's companion might be. He wasn't of her country, anyway -- not a Killmoney man. She could see that by his gab.

"Why, man," said the Squire when he had recovered breath and smacked his lips volubly, "and it's strange I never heard as much as a word of them."

"Unco' strange," said the man of the house. "And if ye're for the hills this nicht ye'd dae worse nor luk tae yer gun primins. Ah see ye ha'e 'A'ld Siller-Toe'wi' ye, Maister Upton."

"Yes, man," said the Squire, drawing forth his pistol "Silver Toe" and examining the pan critically in the goodwife's rush-light to see that all was right. "I seldom fare out wanting her. We'll be off now," he said to Ruairi Carrach, who stood by Kettledrum's head in the darkness of the roadway. "There can be no great danger, if, indeed, any at all, We'll push ahead and trust to luck and 'Silver Toe.' Good-night!"

And, so saying, he thrust a coin in the goodwife's ready hand as "greaser" for her civility, and mounting horse, with Ruairi up behind him, rode rapidly away and was soon lost in the gloom of fog that had descended as they spoke. The road was none too clear, but Upton trusted to his great knowledge of it and pushed on. By the time they had reached the "gap," where they turned off into the mountain path, the dense weight of the fog had lifted, and already the moon was beginning to show her silvery white head in the blue of the heavens over them. Very soon there was no mist at all, save in the Cúm "Hollow," over which it hung like the white waters of a highland tarn, and the glimmering moon's wake shining on them. But as the track kept high, leading over the mountain ridge, our wayfarers did not mind much, everything showing clear and sharp-defined before them. They were plodding slowly ahead through the heather when suddenly Ruairi Carrach dug Upton in the short-rib and whispered "Eist!"

There was a low growl, as of dogs, from the Cúm "bottom."

"Na bréacha is eadh iad!" whispered Ruairi in his mother tongue. "The wolves! the wolves!"

He lept lightly from his seat on the pillion as he spoke, and creeping low in the heather, listened.

"'Tis them," he whispered; "'tis them;"

Upton, brave-heart and all that he was, felt a cold tremor running down his backbone. His mount snorted and shied, pawing the ground uneasily, and it took all his fine powers of horsemanship to keep him up to his bit.

"Mount, man, mount!" he cried to Ruairi. "We'll ride forward. MArk the snarling, man. We're no earthly use as we are. We'll ride down to Dundrod Foot, where I've trysted with Dan Bill, the dog-boy, to have the dogs. There'll be a warm bite in the farmhouse waiting for us to the bargain. I'm half-famished as it is, and you must be starving. Mount, man!"

Ruairi jumped into his place, and Kettledrum started forward nervously.

(To be continued.)

(This article was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 20 July 1917 as part of a series which ran in that paper each week through 1917. The text along with other extracts can be found on my website Eddies Extracts.)

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Upton's Wolves - A Tale of Lisnagarvey.



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A Tale of Lisnagarvey.

(From the Collection of F. J. Bigger, M.R.I.A.)

As originally published the place names in this tale were given in Gaelic. For the convenience of Ulster readers the English equivalents are here employed. The sketch cannot lay claim to any particular historical value beyond possibly portraying in an interesting manner, the state of the country in 1692, and succeeding years.

At the end of the narrative will be found a list of the names of places and expressions as they appeared in the original, with their English equivalents, and, in so far as possible their meaning. The author of the tale simply signs himself, "S. MacC."

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     Hark, the hound growling,
          Wild-dogs are abroad.
     Hark, the hound baying,
          Wolves, belike, are near.

Towards the close of the seventeenth entury -- to be strictly precise, about the war 1692 -- there flourished a fine gentleman of the name Clotworthy Upton. He was master of the glebe and manor of Castte-Upton near the village of Templepatrick in County Antrim, and, as became his position, captain of the local militia or yeomanry. A dark, dour, puritanic man was Clotworthy, close on his purse-strings, stiff to a bargain. Though curious thing, for all his hardness he had aquired the native love of sport; and where a cock-fight or a badger-bait was concerned he was, as they say, "Hibernior Hibernicis ipsis." His kennels and his cock-runs were the pride of the shire. There was not a brock burrowing in Carnmoney, that his terriers would not draw, or hare harbouring by Molusk that his hounds would not kill: no "hiding behind safety" when they were a-foot. And when it came to leading out a staff of cocks not even that crack of cockers, Randall MacDonnell, who backed his birds as the "gingerest blood that flew," could hope to stand before him. Many a bloody battle had they -- Protestant Upton and the Gaelic gentleman from Randalstown -- and many a bloodier main of eleven battles. But whether it was fought out openly on the greens of Duneane, or secretly in the famous closed pits on the Loch side of the Old High Street of Belfast, or at the flush of Ballyutog, Upton's game ever crew last in the set-to. Upton's cocks were cock o' the walk. Their match was not on Erin's ground.

So far so well, and this all by the way. It is not with my lord in his character of cocker or badger-baiter we are immediately concerened, but with my lord as wolf-hunter. Upton as Upton was known to a parish, as badger-baiter to a county, as cock-fighter to a province, as wolf-hunter to a kingdom. Humanly speaking the greater interest absorbs the less: so here's for the story of my lord and the tracking -- the tracking of the last known wolves in Ulster. 'Tis a long story, but what matters when 'tis a good one.

These were awry times. Dutch William's wars were just ended. Lucan and his Wild-Geese, broken gentlemen all, the flower of the native knigdom, had ta'en shipping for Brest:

Lord Lucan followed after, with his slashers brave and true.

There was the peace of desolation in the land -- disturbed now and again by the wanton cruelties of the yeomanry, or the fitful risings-out in reprisal of the poor native population. Robberies for food and clothing were of nightly occurrence. Not the least offenders in this respect were the "carrowes" and "reparies," as they were called -- James's camp-followers. They were the back-wash of Erin, courageless fellows who followed for adventure at the heels of the Royalist army, fought a stroke when forced to it, and ran like May-boys when the way was clear first in at a looting, and last to leave a mess. In the verying fortunes of the Irishry numbers of them were left behind. All Ulster was swarming with them. They were for the most part Catholic and Gaelic speaking. They randied together in clans, living in the open, harbouring by day in the mountains, sleeping at night up the trees. Now and again they sallied forth, as their needs demanded it, seizing a sheep in the pastures, or raiding a house for meal. "Pitch and Prog," as they say, was it with them all the time. Numbers of honest regulars were among them -- you cannot even measure the tories' corn all in one bushel! Brave fellows, they were, who had fallen doing there best, and got valour's reward for it -- a beggar's bed by the wayside, and a nod to forage for themselves. Oftentimes they, disgusted, would hook it away on their own; for they had not the rouges' gregarious instinct, and were heart glad to be freed of such pesky company. They kept a comparatively decent front to the world past Scarva, they knew, it was not safe to curse King William. They would get odd jobs about the Protestant farmers' places, white-washing out-houses or threshing corn. But on the whole they were a scurvy troop; a case of one sack one sample. They had no more stake in the country than if they were tumbling-stones of the fields. They were "poor, insignificant slaves," fit for nothing but to "hew wood and draw water" -- and barely that. The Government party naturally arrogant and flushed with recent victory, would have as soon thought of appealing to the swine for a favour as to them. Ulster, we have said, was swarming with them, the leavings-off of Derry and the beatings-back of the Boyne. A favourite rendezvous of theirs was the old Gamesters' Moat at Lisnagarvey -- partly because it was secluded, and partly because for centuries back it had been the common gathering-ground of all the vagabonds and carding strollers in the kingdom -- and your torie is nothing if not traditional and sentimental. But they only made the Old Moat their headquarters, and in their wanderings by day and their forayings by night often journeyed very far afield.

In the midst of all this pother word came in early one morning of a pack of wolves having been seen on the skirts of the town of Antrim-Antrim, of all, the dullest, drowsiest mix-up of thatch streets I do believe, within the four seas of Erin! The news was carried by a hired man, Ekey Whittle, from the King's Moss side, coming in to market with his master's produce. He had been chased by them in the dark for miles along the Old Templepatrick Road, by the Rough Forth, and Carngreine, but they had scared off as they approached the town toll-bar, and had taken away by Mucamore and the Old Abbey Demesne next Killead on the Loch Shore. His own ashen-white face and the tempest of sweat rolling off his winded mare's quarters spoke testimony enough to the truth of his story. They were big grey lads, he said, old wolves, lank and hungersome, and had come apparently off Beann Madhigan, or some other of the Belfast mountains.

Here now was a to-do. Wolves in Co. Antrim! Wolves, the very name of which had been forgotten in those parts for nigh on a hundred years back! Why, news of the Lisnagarvey 'raparies' descending on the town could hardly have been received with more wonderment or more dismay.

Where had they come from? Some said they were a stray pack, separated in the recent troubles -- by the noise of dragging baggage, forced marchings, and onset of battles  -- from their more fortunate fellows who preyed for weeks unmolested on the rotting carcases of the fallen Irishry after the disaster of the Boyne. It is a matter of sober history that Meath was over-run -- literally over-run -- with wolves, hailing principally from Connaught, after the memorable battle fought on the river-banks between the forces of Dutch William and Craven James on the 1st day of July of the year 1690. So precipitate was James's retreat that hundreds of the bodies of his fallen levies remained unburied; and the sulphurous smoke of battle clearing showed wolves and vultures innumerable gorging themselves to surfeit on the bloody, heaped-up carcases of the dead. Many pathetic stories are told of the faithfulness of wolf-hounds, the property of fallen Irish officers who watched day and night unceasingly over their poor masters' bodies, daring the carrion crew to come near them; and desisted not from their sad task till they sank through hunger and weakness by the sun-bleached bones and flaunting ragged uniforms, with the fell shadows of the undaunted wolves and royston-crows darkening over them.

Others said -- but what they did say does not matter much. Suffice to tell that the sleepy little town was soon in an uproar of dread and preparation -- dread of wolfish invasion, and preparation for its rolling-back. The farmers, come in since morning from the different outlying country districts, all left early in the forenoon, and sober for Antrim men with loose money in their pockets. They rolled home in groups, with their goodwives and buxom daughters hid among the rugs and the bundles behind them, their cart-axles giving tongue merrily in chorus, and all keeping a sharp fearful eye on the woods and waste places marching on the roads for any appearance of the dread murauders. The Killead people took especial precautions; for according to the luckless servantman who had been hunted by the wolves; and had carried first tidings of their whereabouts to the town, they had token off in the Killead direction, and were skulking somewhere along the south Loch Shore. Fires were burnt all night by watchers about Antrim town itself. The toll-bar was barricaded, and every approach and entry made secure.

Morning dawned, and with it the intelligence that a sheep-fold in the townland of Glendarragh on the Crumlin River had been entered during the night, and twenty head of sheep murderously accounted for, besides the rest of the flock let loose in aimless terror over the countryside, bleating most mournfully. The whole Loch Shore was now up. A meeting of the farmers was hurriedly summoned. Search-parties with loaded blunderbusses (Many of their number Williamite yeomanry skilled in the use of the arm) were organised, and dispatched in all directions from Antrim to Stonyford, from Glendarragh to Belfast. Night came down, and still no word of their hiding-place. Daylight broke again, and a lamb-fold broken into -- this time at Dundrod on the back side of Divis Mountain. For three nights the pack roamed at sweet liberty, the veritable terror of all Massareene. They were supposed to slink at first showing of sunrise to the fastness of the Belfast Mountains. But few cared to follow them thither, being seized with fright, or having, as they saidthemselves, the harvest-work of their fields to look after, and the traces of the night's slaughter to remove. They bore the plaque meek as Dippers, till at long last it was agreed that some desperate measure must be taken. The wolves were becoming so bold that they ventured close up to houses even in the broad light of day. And persistent rumour ran that a child had been lifted bodily from the "greens" about Old Crumlin Scutch Mill, while playing there at leap-frog with its fellows.

It was Sunday. A meeting was scratched up in Auld Rabison's Barn at Dundrod after kirk. 'Twas the Sabbath, I've said, But to make up for any seeming desecration of the holy day by talking business every man of them, wore a face as long as a Fair ballad's, or a Lurgan spade. The deliberations were protracted - and fruitless. Plan after plan was proposed, only to be rejected.

"Somethin' maun be done, surely," said Auld Rabison, shaking his grey poll seriously from the chair.

"Whit o' Maister Upton's wulf-dogs?" ventured Alec Tamson, yeoman, of Clover Hill.

"Heth ay. b' the Book," echoed Ebenezer Higgison is his wheezy Loch Shore dialect. "Maister Upton's wulf-dogs, ay -- there's nane ither i' the countryside fit."

"An' m' braw Cocker hissel' for hunter" piped the squeaky voice of Crawford from the cornstalks at the rear.

"Oo ay, ay," clamoured the meeting unanimously, and with an eye to the safety of their own canny skins.

There and then it was decided that Tamson of Clover Hill should ride down to Templepatrick, and interview the Squire with an end to having the loan of his two famous wolf-hounds for the tracking, and, it might be, the Squire himself to slip them. For it was a matter of everyday knowledge that Upton's prime element was adventure -- and here the thing was to his hand without seeking, and of a most hazardous and uncommon sort. Tamson, nothing loth, mounted his cob, tethered, since morning in the Manse byre. Ten hands were by the pillion-stone to give him a leg on, and there were three times as many behind to wave him a safe journey. He rode briskly off. It was falling dusk, what time the wolves began to prowl. But Tanison, man of blood, did not fear much, or if he did, masked his feelings beautifully. The meeting then dispersed amid a droning chorus of "Och ayes" and a general stroking of stub-beards. They moved away in companies for their own better protection, all talking of the recent ravages, and of the "Cocker's twa dugs" as the surest and speediest means to end them.

By the time Tamson reached Squire Upton's place at Templepatrick it was dark. He rode boldly through the castellated gate-piers, and clattered up the dark winding yew avenue, followed by a crew of terrier dogs clamouring madly at his heels. He dismounted at the Farmyard, giving his horse over to the care of Rab, a cottar on the Squire's estate, who was hanging around in the cool twilight air smoking his pipe.

"Is the maister wacthin, Rab?" Tamson enquired.

"Ay, man, faith," said the cottar. "But it's a gie late hoor; an' he winna be disturbed on the Sabbath day. That's aye the menner o; the Maister."

Tamson was not a whit abashed. All he wanted was to know that Upton was a bout-doors; so throwing the cottar a word to look to the mare, he strode bravely to the Big House. What under the moon had he to fear? Upton was dour in his way no doubt, and a true-blue covenanting Sabbath keeper. But he'd break more than tho Sabbath, faith, if the notion of a hunt was in the air -- and what a hunt! Besides, he had ever a gra' for Alec who had done service under him in the old fighting days, and paid his barley-corns regularly.

Tamson rapped loudly on the resplendent brass knocker. The noise was echoed by a deep bay from the big hall within, "The wulf-dugs!" said Tamson to himself. "The crathura, they'll sune get a run tae tak the itch oot o' their soles!"

The door was opened by a bouncing maidservant in a frill cap. She peered blindly out into the dark.

"Gude-nicht, Tibbie," said Tamson, recognising the girl as a "dochther" of his own countryside.

"Och, an' it's you, then Maister Tamson," she laughed. "A braw nicht wae-thoot. Cam' in man. Up aboot the rid 'moiley.' Ah'm thinkin'? The Maister was jist sp'aking o' ye -- ay, cam' the morra is twa day. Cam' in man."

Tamson entered, withdrawing his hair-skin cap respectfully. He was ushered into a small office or ante-room, where he awaited the pleasure of the Squire. In about ten minutes the big man himself came sauntering down the hall-flags, soberly humming what we in these days would call a "Methody psalm-tune." He turned the door-handle brusquely, and stepped into the room, followed by two fine wolf-dogs that scampered awkwardly at his heels.

Tamson rose off his chair, pulling his forelock.

"Ah, Tamson, it's you then?" said the Squire in his wonted blunt way. "You are late a-foot." He slouched into a spacious "saddle-bags" as he spoke.

"The wulves, sar, the wulves," said Tamson.

"It's a story, Tamson," interjected the Squire, crabbedly.

"'T may be, sar, but a true, a gie true wan. The Glendarragh men ken that tae their cost. Ane-an'-twenty head o' sheep there, Jordan Bleakley's wull, done for the nicht afore last, a chile lifted beyout Aul' Crumlin Lint-Mill, an' three yowe lambs ate alive Dundrod way no later than yestherday. It's bad work, sar, verre bad -- and ah'm thinking' there'll be no peace in the countryside 'till the dogs are an them. Cam' by, Hector," said Tamson sympathetically, stroking one of the great hounds which fawned upon him.

"You think, now, Tamson, it couldn't be the 'raparies'?" hinted the Squire. "There's a nest of them, I hear, harbouring down by Lisnagarvey, and a noted Kerry outlaw among them as leader. They make the Old Moat there their headquarters, but they wander far afield. They go robbing through half the Barony, breaking into barns and rifling hen-roosts. Why, 'twas only this very day I heard they'd been by Belfast, and over Beann-Madhigan -- the Cave Hill, Tamson -- at our very doors!"

"The wolves, sar, the wolves," said Tamson deliberately. "It's an the Cave Hill, sar, the pack's in hidin'. They lie there snug by day, an' cam' deukin' doon at nicht under cover o' the dark, ransackin' an' riflin' a' roon. The mischief's aye laid at the tories dures -- but it's no them, sar, it's no' them. I ken tae my ain knowledge, sar, that Sam Bennett's we Connaught yowe was carried awa' b' wolves, an' Sam's oot day and daily over the fiel's, shoutin' 'Tories! Tories!' an' half the waens o' Dundrod side efther him. The Biggerstown folk are clane daft wi' freight. It's the wolves, Maister Upton, the wolves -- nane ither."

Squire Upton said nothing, in reply, but thought deeply for a while in silence, his right hand resting upon the noble Hector's head, his legs crossed carelessly.

"H'm," he said, abruptly breaking the silence which, was becoming painfully monotonous. "If I give you the dogs, Tamson, will you do hunter? I have a concern for the morrow down, Lambeg way, and I may be detained there overnight. These wolves, if wolves they be, must be tackled and settled for out of hand -- you know that Tamson. I am not against the work myself but business prevents, man, business prevents."

The yeoman shifted uneasily in his chair. The proposal, evidently, was not honey to him. His dark grizzled lip quivered in suspense, and he rolled his skin cap nervously from hand to hand.

"You don't cotton to the task, I see," said the Squire gruffly, piercing his tenant through with a look, and at the same time withdrawing from his breast a curious horn box, ouf of which he snuffed volubly," 'Twas a way Upton had. He always snuffed, so, when he was nettled or in a quandary.

"Heth no, sar," blurted Tamson. "Ah'm no' the stuff for the job, Besaides, the
guid-wife's camin' in chile, an' the dhreed micht dae for her. She's a peevish, fretful boddy, onyway, sar -- ye ken't of aul' fechtin' times. An' she'll be thinkin' long as 'tis. Ah'm frae hame syne a wee afore ten this marnin', an' Ah'll sune be tae be off. Whit time is it, Maister Upton?" Tamson asked, as much for an excuse to rise as for aught else. It's gie an' late -- gone nine, Ah'm thinkin'?"

"Ah, well," said the Squire, rising briskly to his feet. "Theres none but myself and the dogs for it, then. You're riding, Tamson!"

"Ay, sar."

"Well, mount saddle and peg home as fast as old 'Lizzie Fairfoot' will carry you. It's now gone nine. Warn the countryside 'twixt The Inn and Clover Hill that nothing can be done before this time the morrow night. I'm away to Dunmurry by daybreak in the morning. It time allows I will jog on to Lisnagarvey, and get the help there of the 'Dragoon from Kerry' -- or who knows but that the rascal and his gang might challenge me on the road, and save me the bother? He's a noted hunter, I hear, and has faced fiercer than wolves in his time. Off, Tamson! Warn the countryside."

So saying the Squire strode churlishly from the room, and Tamson was left to shuffle to the door as best he could in the uncertain light of two mould candles that glimmered fitfully from their sconces in the great hall without. In a short time, however, he was a-horse, and pounding down the dark road towards Clover Hill, stopping at every wayside habitation to acquaint the folk of their coming deliverance.

(To be continued.)

(This article was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 13 July 1917 as part of a series which ran in that paper each week through 1917. The text along with other extracts can be found on my website Eddies Extracts.)

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Extracts from Hibernian Magazine, May, 1778.



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May, 1778.

A long and interesting article appeared in this magazine, dated from Glenavy, and bearing the simple signature X. The natural conclusion would appear to be that this article was written by the author of "Heterogenea," who was born in 1747 and resided for a time at Glenavy. The internal evidence, however, rather precludes this conclusion, and it is not at all improbable that the article was from the pen of the author of "A Tour in Ireland," 1813 and 1814.

Only short extracts are here recorded, sufficient to give a general idea of the scope and trend of the article.
At present Lisburn consists of three streets centring at the Market Place on the north side of the River, and one on the south side. The houses are generally built of brick in a neat handsome manner, and slated, and are mostly three storeys high. The streets are well paved and kept clean. In the winter season they are well lighted with globe lamps at proper distances, so that doubtless this is the handsomest inland town in Ulster. The whole number of houses in the town and suburbs in 1776 was 654, which at seven to a house contain 4,578 inhabitants.
The church is moderately large, but not elegant in its structure. The steeple is of a tolerable height. The Presbyterian Meeting House is a much more elegant building, it is large and lofty, built of stone, plain on the outside, but remarkable for the neatness and elegance of the inside work. It is about 60 feet by 40, exclusive of staircases. Three large galleries, supported by seven pillars, surround the house. A large genteel congregation is to be seen here on Sundays.

The Friends' Meeting House, the Methodist Church, the Roman Catholic Chapel, the Market House, and the Assembly Rooms are referred to and described.
A few years ago the Market House had a clock and steeple, but, the latter being taken down, the former was removed to the Church steeple. The landlord, who receives annually near £14,000 from this estate, not a shilling of which is spent in Ireland, cannot be prevailed upon to rebuild this steeple.

The building of the Linen Hall, the trade of the town and the markets receive attention and notice.
There is likewise a pretty considerable trade in the manufacture of linen cloth carried on here, and in the shopkeeping way, and of late years in supplying the towns more inland with foreign merchandise such as timber, groceries, spirits, ashes, etc., etc. The River Lagan, which passes by this town, is navigable for vessels of thirty or forty tons from Belfast, several of these vessels are constantly employed in bringing coals, and other merchandise from thence, which, till of late years, belonged to merchants of that town, but the inhabitants of Lisburn began now to see their own interests, several of them having established warehouses in the town, and some being concerned in vessels that carry on foreign trade, now not only supply their own but many of the neighbouring towns with foreign merchandise, and what is yet more surprising, a Quaker gentleman in Lisburn supplies many people in Belfast, which is a seaport, with wines of all sorts.

Right through the article runs a gentle vein of sarcasm that at times is quite refreshing.
Thus, without the aid or encouragement of a landlord, has this town increased in building and in trade. If it had the advantage of a landlord who could either spare the time to visit it now and then in person, or give orders to allow a small matter yearly for necessary improvements, few inland towns in Ireland could equal this. The former we cannot expect, his lordship having so many lucrative employments about the Court, requiring his attendance, and his character for generosity has been so well established in his vice-royalty that few will wonder of his neglecting the latter.

Here follow numerous suggested improvements, a complaint that the town provided no charitable institution, not even a parish-school, and an account of an attempt to establish a poorhouse, blocked by Lord Hertford. The foundation and opening of the Friends' School, Prospect Hill, received due notice. The pride of the ladies of Lisburn comes in for severe criticism. A very long paragraph being devoted to this interesting subject.
The character of the inhabitants of Lisburn is well established, pride being their principal foible, many of those who, from being destitute of fortune, high birth, or education, seem least entitled to vanity, justly deserve this character. The ladies are in general brought up too much in high life for their circumstances the whole business of their lives is dressing and attending balls, domestic concerns are below their notice, and few of them have got an education sufficient to give them a taste for that rational amusement -- reading. By this means, those ladies are too high for tradesmen to look to as future partners, and three or four hundred pounds are much too little to purchase nobility for the daughter of a north country linen draper.

The young men of Lisburn also do not escape scathless, they suffer equally with their gentle sisters, from the caustic humour that flows so freely from the facile pen of X.

He waxes eloquent on subserviency to landlord tyranny --
Though the inhabitants of Lisburn behave thus haughtily to those whom they imagine their inferiors, they are kept in a state of abject slavery by their landlord, and so accustomed have they been from generation to generation to tremble at the frowns of his agents and stewards they look upon him who should act or even think contrary to his will and pleasure, particularly in regard to their most important concern -- that of elections -- as a rebel, and his company is avoided as such, no person would have any communication with him. Thus, instead of endeavouring to maintain their rights, they join their endeavours to confirm their own slavery.

The author grants ungrudgingly than there were, as might be expected amongst the citizens, honourable exceptions. How much truth or foundation, however, there may have been for the severe strictures upon the good inhabitants of Lisnagarvey, a hundred years ago or more, it is now difficult to say. It Is noticeable that in the literature dealing with the period about 1770-1830, reference crops up occasionally to the pride of the ladies and the exclusiveness of the linen drapers. The term, "linen draper," in this connection was applied to a merchant engaged in the linen industry. Harsh judgment should be reserved when it is considered, how many in the North of Ireland, and in Lisburn in particular, sprung into unexpected opulence through the activities of the new industry, the power of the landlord, the living in a small and restricted community, and the power and influence that even comparative wealth then conferred. It is a pleasing contrast indeed, should the picture be only partly true to turn to the Lisburn of to-day with its wider outlook the freedom from petty tyranny, the larger and more general interests, and the more equal distribution of wealth. Possibly no town in the North of Ireland is more happily situated, than Lisburn in regard to the general social status of its inhabitants, and the freedom, from that narrow and soul corroding social exclusiveness, and those petty social distinctions so emphatically condemned by X.

In the same number of the magazine under date, Lisburn, March 1, 1778, appears an account of the death of a Lisburn worthy, and a long and glowing account of his many good deeds and perfections --
This day died Mr. F. Burden, of this place, linen draper, a man whose character approached as near perfection as human nature is probably capable of, his conduct through life having discovered humanity in its most engaging colours and highest degree of excellence, exhibiting to the world a model of strict justice and universal benevolence.

-- -- -- -- -- -- --


By an Bye-witness.
Published in 1891.

A Continuation of the impartial History of the Wars in Ireland, 1689-92.
Published in 1693.

Both books are bound in the same volume and combined run to some 500 pages. George Story was chaplain to the Earl of Drogheda's Regiment.

This is a valuable and scarce book. There is a good and well-preserved copy in the Linen Hall Library. The combined works cover Schomberg's operation's in Ireland, the landing of William III. at Carrickfergus, the Boyne campaign, Siege of Derry and other important and interesting events in those momentous years. There is not much bearing directly on the history of Lisburn in either work. The Rout or Break of Dromore is thus referred to --
Early in 1689 the Protestants in Ireland were in daily expectation of arms, ammunition, commissions, and some forces from England, and it's more than probable, that if they had got them, or not hoped to them, the business had cost neither so much blood, or treasure as since it has, yet some advised, not to make any show of discontent, till they had an opportunity, and were in a condition to make their party good, by the arrival of succours from England. But the greater part, impatient of delays begin to lift men, and with what arms they could get, to make a show of forming an army. Against those in the North, Lieutenant-General Hambleton, an official of King James, marched with about one thousand of the standing army and nigh twice as many Rapparees, in a distinct body, they met at Drummore, in the County of Down, and on the 14th March the Protestants were routed with no great difficulty, and no wonder, for they were indifferently provided with arms, ammunition, and commanders, nor was their discipline any better. This was afterwards called "The Break of Drummore" a word common amongst the Irish Scots for a rout.

Reference, is made to Lisburn, which Duke Schomberg's army passed through on it's March South, September 2nd, 1689. "One of the prettiest inland towns in the North of Ireland, and one of the most English-like places in the kingdom." The oft told tale of the "Gamesters' Mount" is also related. Lord Lisburne appears as an officer in the army. Captain de St. Sauvem, a Frenchman, who took part in the defence of Sligo, and a Colonel Langston died of a fever at Lisburn. Schomberg had his headquarters in this town, and an hospital in Belfast. The General at this time did not advance further than Dundalk.
On Tuesday, 3rd September, 1689, Schomberg's Army marched through Hillsborough, a place where the enemy before our coming, had kept a garrison, near which, on the highway side, were two of our men hanged for deserting, that night we encamped at Dromore.

Brass Money.

And now, December 1689, the Irish begin to make the coin of their brass money less than it was at first, calling in the large brass half-crowns and stamping them anew for crowns, they wanting metal to go on with as they first began. They say it was a Quaker that first proposed this movation of brass money, but whoever it was they did that party a great service, since they would never have been able to carry on the, war witbout it.

Convention in Lisburn.

Towards the end of November, 1689, General Schomberg summoned all the gentlemen in the country to meet him at Lisburn, where they presented him with an address, and agreed upon rates for all sorts of provisions which were commanded to be sold according to the Duke's Proclamation, but this was very disagreeable to the country people who had made us pay treble rates before for everything we had from them.

Mention is made, in March 1690, of four prisoners taken at Charlemont being brought to Lisburn. All this time the General in Lisburn was daily sending provisions and stores to the men stationed on the frontiers.

King William landed at Carrickfergus, June 14th, 1690. On June 19th his army passed through Lisburn on its way to Hillsborough, and on that day the King dined with Schomberg at his headquarters in Market Square. On 27th June the army marched through Dundalk 36,000 strong, composed of English, Scotch, Dutch, Germans, Danes, French, and Ulster Protestants.

One of James' officers -- Sarsefield -- speaking of the Boyne said -- "If you would change kings we would fight it once again and beat you."

(More "Extracts" next week.)

(This article was originally published in the Lisburn Standard on 6 July 1917 as part of a series which ran in that paper each week through 1917. The text along with other extracts can be found on my website Eddies Extracts.)

Friday, 1 July 2011

The Charge of The Ulster Division at Thiepval

 July 1st, 1916.

Was ever a Charge in the world like this?
Shall ever a son of Ulster miss
A fame that is wholly and solely his --
     A fame of sublimest splendour?
The lads who laughed in the face Death!
Above the roar of the cannon's breath
Singing their sacred shibboleth
     Of "The Boyne" and "No Surrender!"

Giant-strong, with the strength of Right --
Fired, by the soul of their sires, to fight --
What cared they for the foeman's might,
     Or how many cannons thundered?
Face to face with a hundred Huns,
Half-a-score of Ulster's sons
Silenced the thunder of the guns --
     Ten -- a match for a hundred!

Nought could stay them: nought them stop:
A thirst for blood to the last red drop,
Charging along on the topmost top
     Of the waves of Fire that bore them!
On, with a thirst that nought could quell,
Thro' a hurricane-shower of shot and shell,
To fight -- or fall, as their Fathers fell,
     In the doughty days before them!

Merrily -- every mother's son --
Laughing, as tho' they fought for fun,
With a song and a cheer they charged the Hun,
     Marring his Maker's image!
Chaffing, as tho' each shell might be
The whistle-call of a Referee!
And the bloodiest tussle in History
     Only -- a Football scrimmage!

Into the Hell of "No Man's Land,"
Thro' poisoned air, at their soul's command,
And a shrapnel-storm that none could stand,
     Charging, in wild derision.
Past Sentry Death, who, wondering, kept
His vigil there -- on, on they swept,
Where never a man could live -- except
     Ulster's Divine Division!

Flinging his fun in the face of Death --
Above the roar of the cannon's breath
Singing his sacred shibboleth
     Of "The Boyne" and "No Surrender!"
Wherever a son of Ulster is,
Honour and Glory shall aye be his!
Was ever a fight in the world like this,
     Or a charge of sublimer splendour?

Samuel Kennedy Cowan

Images: At ThiepvalThe Attack of the Ulster Division by J.P. Beadle in Belfast City Hall.